Professor Bev Skeggs. Photo by: Martin Åkerblom.
Professor Bev Skeggs. Photo by: Martin Åkerblom.
 

In the lecture, Bev Skeggs (Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK) introduced her research project Values & Value. The study analyzes how Facebook earns revenue by encouraging users to engage in specific forms of online activity and how, in the process, it may be reconfiguring the values of friendship. Findings show that Facebook most effectively monetises those users who enterprise themselves and engage in tight and influential online networks: the information that they provide through their online activity makes it possible for the company to match them quite accurately to advertisers.

Advertising is the major source of revenue for Facebook: it accounts for approximately 85% of its profits, drawn from the 901 million people active in its platform every month. Professor Skeggs explained that examining how Facebook infrastructures online relationships in order to earn revenue implied overcoming the methodological challenge of ‘getting inside’ its interface, which remains largely inaccessible to external researchers. The project’s unconventional multi-method approach combined the design of custom software tools, an online survey, data visualizations, and interviews with participating users, where their understandings of the researchers’ analysis was discussed.

For more information about the lecture, see leadingresearch.com

Text by: Florencia Enghel